Sports Commentary 9/23/13
Saturday Night’s UConn-Michigan Game was electric….But…
PLAYING WITH THE BIG BOYS
There’s nothing like a win to erradicate the sins of a winless season. The UCONN football team didn’t get that win Saturday night, but they came close, and suddenly 0-3 doesn’t look as bad as, well, 0-3. At Rentschler Field the Huskies took 15th ranked Michigan to the final minute and a half before dropping a three point decision. To first acknowlege the elephant at “The Rent”, Michigan, coming off a less than impressive win over Akron, is overrated. Devin Gardner is a double threat quarterback with a protective offensive line and Fitzgerald Touissaint is a more than credible back with 129 yards against a UCONN defense that showed up ready to play at an elite level, but the rest of the Michigan talent seems somewhat ordinary, and the Wolverines get poll points for the brand name and the most championships in NCAA history. That said, the Huskies were 18 point underdogs. By halftime they were up 14-7 and three plays into the second half junior safety Ty-Meer Brown picked up a fumble at the Michigan 30 and took it to the end zone for a 14 point UCONN lead before holding Michigan to a three and out on the next possession. It was then that Michigan’s pedigree kicked in, holding UCONN to a three and out before putting together their best drive of the game, nine plays, seventy six yards, Touissaint with a 35 yard run to make it a seven point game after three quarters. This game eventually came down to one play, in the fourth quarter. Not the only interception UCONN quarterback Chandler Whitmer would throw, that Desmond Morgan returned 29 yards to the UCONN 12, the play after that. The one time all night the UCONN D, which had performed at the highest level, failed to contain the sweep, the one time they let Touissaint get outside, and he took it to the end zone to tie the game, altering the dynamics the rest of the way, Michigan needing just a field goal to go ahead, rather than a touchdown to come from behind. “We needed a little better ‘red zone’ defense there”, coach Paul Pasqualoni said after the game, “Hold them to a field goal instead of a touchdown. We contained them for a long time but we lost ‘contain’ on that stretch play, we just got out of position a little bit and he took it around us. Good backs make plays.” That’s how close it was. With a UCONN record home crowd of 43,000 packed in at “The Rent” in an atmosphere like South Bend on any given Saturday and a national television audience taking it all in, UCONN football returned to square one. For one week at least the volume will turn down on the cries to replace Pasqualoni and there’s a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel. On the last Saturday night of summer the UCONN Huskies showed they could play with the big boys in a big time setting. But, at 0-3, it’s a fragile forgiveness that will all come apart if they come out of Buffalo on the first Saturday of autumn 0-4. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.